Windows 7, continued

Well, so far I’ve been quite happy with Windows 7. It doesn’t crash on me, it’s just there. Even hibernation works like it should (which it never, ever did with any Linux version).

But, on the other hand, I’ve been forced (…) to do a complete reinstall because I could not upgrade Visual Studio Professional to SP1. Because it had conflict somewhere in the Web devel with Office Home & student. Because of that it totally abandoned upgrading to SP1.

Ok, then just uninstall office, do SP1, and reinstall Office and do Office SP2.

Nope. It would not, because it could not uninstall because of some half-successful, but not quite, install of SP1.

Ok, I’ll uninstall VS, and then upgrade Office to SP2. Oh wait, it could not uninstall VS, because of some half installed web devel thingy which could not complete.

That sucked.

But, I would not abandon my conversion from Linux to Windows in a mere week and a half. Usually it takes about two months before I get really fed up with everything and throw the towel in the ring.

No, I did a total reinstall of Windows 7, with Office (professional trial), VS Professional, OneNote (which, for some reason that totally eludes me, is included in Home&Student, but not in Professional. I guess OneNote is not professional than to use), Kaspersky Internet Security(thanx for giving a voucher for a year free Kaspersky, great for tests like this) and TortoiseHG.

It took less than four hours, which is quite good. It didn’t take as many reboots as it used to. About four, if I remember correctly. Which is very nice. In the four hours I also BitLocked the 100GB drive in my laptop, so all in all, that wasn’t that bad an experience and I could get to work on it after four hours. An ubuntu install takes less time, but before I can actually go to work, it takes about the same amount of time (getting window managers set up, install all the freaking packages I forgot, etc.).  Hmm, that’s not very fair of me, because the windows machine is not quite ready yet. I don’t have emacs. It always takes a while to get emacs working properly on any platform. But that’s for another day.

At the end of this day, I’m still a happy camper, while writing this post in Windows Live Writer. That is, if I’m successful at actually posting this.

In the mean time my verdict so far:

  • coolness: 7/10 (it looks ok, but aero gets old really fast)
  • crashes: 10/10 (none, so far)
  • reinstall: 1/10 (if I have to reinstall to get a setup working again, that’s bad. Really bad).
  • wonkyness: 7/10 (Win7 doesn’t really get in your face, which is good, but the jury’s still out on the actually liking of the Libraries. That feels, well, we’re still out on that one)

Windows 7 installation

I’m an avid user of anything UNIX related: linux, freebsd, opensolaris. I even tinkered around with SCO Unix and Microsoft Xenix (but that was a rather long time ago). But, for some unknown reason I find myself longing to install a windows version.

I’ve used WinXP for a good two months, got fed up that I didn’t get any productivity out of it, and installed a linux distro on my laptop again. Same for the homeserver which was running Win 2003 server at a point in time.

It was that time of year again, so I started installing Windows 7 on the trusty laptop. And all of a sudden it has to go do production within two days of installing. I exploded in an absolute frenzy just to get everything that I might need on the road in there: UMTS connectivity (works), ssh client (two, both work), office (2007, works, duh) (as a sidenote, I love OneNote). And finally to top it all off, a virusscanner/personal firewall thing.


It didn’t work, which kind of beta, final release, from whichever firm, it would not work. The resulting install gave me a headache, as the error messages were quite strange. “Unknown error #0x80040201 occurred”. But this night (two days of tinkering and throwing things out of windows and almost throwing in the towel and installing Ubuntu again (I had to become productive again, and secure as well)) I had a light bulb over my head:

Get rid of EFS.

The Encrypting File System (EFS) is a good, sound, well implemented way to have your own files encrypted and no-one will be able to read them, unless you give them permission. Not even SYSTEM can read them.

I’ll repeat that again.

Not even SYSTEM can read them.

If you start a decompression of an EFS encrypted file, the contents will be encrypted as well. In an awful lot of cases this is exactly the behaviour you want. Because you decompress the file, you do not automatically give everyone access to it, now do you? You can do the installation all right (setup.exe does not complain). But SYSTEM cannot read the resulting files. SYSTEM needs to be able to read the files, because they’re drivers, for crying out loud.

If you remove the encryption of the downloaded installer, everything installs fine, like before, but now SYSTEM can read the files. Yay.

Therefore one piece of advice: do not use EFS on your preferred download location, then you can install the resulting stuff to your heart’s delight.

So, I feel quite good about this, now it finally works. I’m running trend micro now, we’ll see if I’ll buy after the trail, or that I’ll be running ubuntu again.

Installing FreeBSD 7.2

As a friday night expedition, I decided to install FreeBSD on one of the old PC in the proximity of my desk. An Amd Athlon 2400+, 1GB mem, a cdr-drive and two 50G PATA disks. Should work, shouldn’t it?

For some reason the installdisk from the full CD set did not boot. At all. Reason unknown, but the situation persisted. OpenBSD ran like a charm, but OpenBSD wasn’t the intended goal for reasons I will not go into, at this point. Using the OpenBSD bootloader to boot from the CD also wasn’t an option as even OpenBSD found something wrong with the install cd. I was getting tired of the sh*t, so I tried one last thing: use the boot-only disk to do a network install. Guess what: no problem. At all. So, that took care of that. FreeBSD was running on the old box, I could login.

I wanted X to work, because I might actually decide to use BSD from some development I’m doing right now. But, setting up X is rather awkward. For some reason FreeBSD doesn’t accept that I have a normal keyboard and a simple mouse. X insists that the machine has a sysmouse. Hmm. Because of this insistence I did not have a mouse or a keyboard. But Ctrl-Alt-Del seemed to work ok, go figure.

Finally, I found an answer: add the following to /etc/rc.conf:

What happens is that FreeBSD’s default X configuration (or xorg’s default config) wants to autoconfigure all input devices, but the default FreeBSD config does not enable the features to actually enable the autoconfiguration stuff.

That took a while and cost me some gray hairs, but that now works. Next step: getting nfs4 to properly work. It sort of worked, but the idmapd did not arrive at the proper ids. Looking further on the net, it was revealed that nfs4 was kinda, well, pushing up the daisies. It was no more than an abandoned carcass. Sigh. No lovely kerberos + nfsv4, but plain old insecure nfsv3.

Package management is a bit harsh, when you compare it to other package managers out there. At least pkg_add has an -r option to get stuff remote and it actually resolves dependencies. But there is no real equivalent for ”apt-cache search foo“, which is a bit of a nuisance since I like to search the package repository before building myself (I’m lazy, and totally fed up with dependency problems)

But now everything works, and the system is very fast. Faster than it used to be running other stuff, at least, that’s how it feels to me.